the greatest thing in my life.” Married for over three decades, Ricky says their marriage is better today than when it started. “She’s so smart. You teach her something, she’ll beat you at it! I admire her.” Diane says, “After 31 years, I still love Rick! He’s my best friend. He’s my buddy, my hanging partner.”
Ernestine Dilworth’s ministry started in 1976; she passed the baton to her son-in-law in 1981. Overcoming by Faith makes reference to the “Total Family” in its ministry. Integral to Pastor Rick’s own story, he’s an advocate of generational support and progression: “I help my kids, they help their kids… it should work that way.”
The Temples have two children: Ricky Jr., or RJ (30), and Christina (25). RJ uses his music degree from Georgia Southern University and a degree from Berkeley in audio production as the musical director of Overcoming by Faith. A layered artist, he leads a band called RJ and The imagiNATION. RJ is also a game audio designer on the side, releasing over 25 game titles this past year (including an upcoming title featuring Shaquille O'Neal).
The newest member of their family is Monica, whom Ricky married in 2010 (10/10/10, to be exact). They met on eHarmony.com. “I was about to cancel my account! Customer service talked me into staying a little longer,” he laughs. A couple weeks later, he met Monica, a teacher living in Tennessee. “On our first date, we met in Atlanta. He took me to the aquarium, it was so much fun! I had no idea he was a PK [preacher’s kid], and certainly not on this level.” Monica works as the administrative assistant at Overcoming By Faith in Savannah, and graduates in May from Armstrong Atlantic State University with a degree in liberal arts studies.
Leading the youth ministry is Christina, also a graduate of Georgia Southern. Like her parents, she’s a captivating speaker. A beaming light, she makes Diane think of her own mother. “Christina has this anointing upon her that is so much like my mom, and they never met. She had no desire to go in this direction. It just happened upon her,” Diane says.
“People peg you a PK and think ‘you can’t do this, you can’t do that.’ By watching my parents, I know that you can administer the gospel and be exactly who you are.” RJ gives credence to Temple family wisdom: “We were taught to be ourselves and people will see God clearly.”
The Temples lead Overcoming by Faith in Savannah, and as of January 2012, The Church on the Way in Los Angeles as well. But calling them a 'church family' is to simplify them. Dr. Ricky Temple is a pastor, preacher, critical thinker, biblical scholar—many things, with a family of luminaries to match.
“We don’t want the ministry to define us,” he says. “That’s what tends to happen pastor’s families. ‘Pastor, preacher’s wife, preacher’s kids’—in a box! No. I believe that Ricky, Diane, Christina, RJ, now Monica, we are separate parts of a whole. We come together to do our own thing. Everyone is represented.” The total family.
The Coolest Black Family in America is an EBONY.com original series: an ongoing look at the intricacies, layers and compelling beauty of African-American family life. Of course, "The Coolest Black Family” is not one family but many. In fact, we’ve found that there are as many Coolest Black Families as there are versions of cool. Also consider that family does not always mean mother + father + kids. What we know is that what defines family is connected hearts and supported souls. Ride with us weekly as we criss-cross the country in search of kinfolk whose cool is so palpable and real, it comes second only to their love.
Joicelyn Dingle travels to find the Coolest Black Family in America exclusively for EBONY.com. She splits her time between Savannah and Brooklyn. She is currently completing a documentary on the making of Honey magazine and the 90's urban publishing era. Friend her on Facebook.